Wellington is an arty kinda town – expect quality gallery experiences and some fab museums. There are also some great wilderness-in-the-city experiences to be had here, some interesting old buildings and a couple of awesome lookouts.
If you've got your own wheels, take a trip around the wild, rugged bays of the south coast and Miramar Peninsula.
Wellington's harbour offers plenty of opportunities to get active: kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing… (Wellington is windy: might as well make the most of it!). Back on dry land there's rock climbing, cycling and high-wire walking to keep you entertained. Pick up the Wellington City Cycle Map for bike-trail info.
Festivals & Events
Check at the Wellington i-SITE for comprehensive events listings.
Accommodation in Wellington is more expensive than in regional areas, but there are plenty of options close to the city centre. Free parking spots are a rarity – ask in advance about options. Wellington’s budget accommodation largely takes the form of multistorey hostel megaliths. Motels dot the city fringes. Self-contained apartments are popular, and often offer bargain weekend rates. Book well in advance in summer and during major events.
Wellington offers a bewildering array of eating options: contemporary cafes, upmarket restaurants and oodles of noodle houses. Stiff competition keeps standards high.
Best Places to Eat
Drinking & Nightlife
Wellingtonians love a late night. The inner city is riddled with bars, with high concentrations around raucous Courtenay Pl, bohemian Cuba St and along the waterfront. A creative live-music scene keeps things thrumming, along with great NZ wines and even better craft beer. See www.craftbeercapital.com for beery propaganda. For gig listings see www.undertheradar.co.nz and www.eventfinder.co.nz.
Wellington has a lively theatre scene and is the home of large national companies such as the Royal NZ Ballet and the NZ Symphony Orchestra. Most shows can be booked via Ticketek (www.ticketek.co.nz), Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.nz) and TicketDirect (www.ticketdirect.co.nz). Discounted same-day tickets for productions are sometimes available at the i-SITE.
Movie times are listed in the daily Dominion Post and at www.flicks.co.nz. There are some excellent indie cinemas here, plus the usual mainstream megaplexes.
Welcome to Wellywood
In recent years Wellington has stamped its name firmly on the world map as the home of New Zealand’s dynamic film industry, earning itself the nickname ‘Wellywood’. Acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson still calls Wellington home; the success of his The Lord of the Rings films and subsequent productions such as King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and The Hobbit have made him a powerful Hollywood player, and have bolstered Wellington’s reputation.
Canadian director James Cameron is also in on the action; shooting has commenced for his four Avatar sequels, the first of which is due for a 2020 release. Cameron and his family are NZ residents, with landholding in rural Wairarapa. They have that in common with Jackson, who also has a property there.
Movie buffs can experience some local movie magic by visiting the Weta Cave or one of many film locations around the region – a speciality of local guided-tour companies.
Wellington supports a host of independent shops including scores of design stores and clothing boutiques. Despite cheap imports and online shopping, there's still plenty that's Kiwi-made here. Retailers fly their home-grown flags with pride.